This season, this short, crazy, and insane season has seen a lot of rookie pitchers. With all of the call ups, this has been one of the more compelling MLB seasons we have seen in a long time. It seems like every week there are new pitchers being called up to grab a spot start. Pitchers who haven’t even reached the AAA level. Most importantly pitchers that we have been waiting a long time to see. There will be two parts to this article as we will analyze some of these rookie pitchers, how they are performing, and what their future holds.
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The 2021 draft season will be interesting, to say the least. There has been an abundance of surprises when it comes to starting pitchers. For instance, Zach Davies, Corbin Burnes, Dallas Keuchel, Framber Valdez, and Adam Wainwright all have a sub-three ERA. What’s going to be strenuous for 2021 is figuring out who is “real” and who isn’t. How do we do that? Well, there are several factors such as a pitch mix change, movement changes on pitches, and velocity. With all that said there’s (at least) one pitcher performing well who seems to be legit. That pitcher is Pablo Lopez.
For those who don’t know, I started in this industry with a focus on streaming pitchers. By using various statistics for both pitchers and their opponents I have been providing advice to followers on who to stream in their leagues. What does streaming pitchers mean? Simply put it means grabbing a pitcher off your waiver wire for one start. You choose that pitcher based on matchup and skill hoping they provide you with decent ratios and then dump them back into the free-agent pool.
With that said it is important to know which pitchers are worth streaming in certain matchups. These pitchers typically aren’t good enough to keep on your team but could prove useful in the right matchup. This is important to know because this is a key factor in streaming successfully. For instance, no matter who Wade LeBlanc’s opponent is, you never want to take a chance on him. There is no strikeout potential, no ratio potential, and in his last three starts he has a 10.13 ERA.
For this piece I wanted to keep it under 10% in terms of rostered percentage. This way it ensures most if not all of the names below are available in your league.
SwStr% is a simple metric that is calculated by taking swings and misses and dividing it by total pitches. Why is SwStr% important? Simply put, if a pitcher can produce a bunch of swings and misses it means his strikeout rate should be high. The more strikeouts the better, because if you look at an elite pitcher in baseball you will see a high strikeout rate. It is well known that SwStr% correlates well with a pitchers strikeout rate. Want to know if a player’s K% is over or underperforming? Check out their SwStr%. The rule of thumb (although it isn’t exact) is to double a pitchers SwStr% and their K% should be around that number. Keep in mind some pitchers will be outliers if they consistently rely on called strikes, like Aaron Nola.
Let’s take a look at the SwStr% leaders so far this season.
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Pitch movement is simply measured by vertical and horizontal movement. Some websites do differ in the number of inches as some include gravity while others don’t. Movement on a pitch can mean everything. Think about it – of course the more a pitch moves the harder it is to hit. But on the other end, that also means it is harder for the pitcher to command. Below are two pitchers who have seen an increase in movement on one of their pitches. So what does this mean for these pitchers moving forward? Check it out below!
Trevor Bauer has been like a sour patch candy the past two years. In 2018 he was sweet and put up a 2.21 ERA with the underlying metrics to support it. In 2019 he turned sour and put up a 4.48 ERA and again had the underlying metrics to support it. Coming into 2020 it was impossible to make rhyme or reason on what the heck happened to Bauer. Personally I thought his four-seam seemed to over-perform in 2018, thinking his 2020 wouldn’t be far off from his 2019. Boy was I wrong.
Hey everyone! Before we get started on pitch mix changes I figured I would introduce myself since this is my first article on Fangraphs. When I learned I would be writing for Fangraphs it felt like I had just won the lotto. As people would say these days, my mind was blown. For those who don’t know me, you can mainly see my work on my own blog and I am extremely active on twitter. I have an obsession with pitching, am a Mets fan (unfortunately), and my favorite pitcher in today’s game is, of course, Jacob deGrom. The baseball community is the best in the world and I couldn’t be more excited for this new adventure!
In this shortened season we sadly won’t be able to rely on a ton of metrics when analyzing pitchers. The sample size just won’t be big enough, but one factor that could be telling is pitch mix. We have seen numerous pitchers suddenly lean on different pitches, creating a significant difference in their performance (looking at you Patrick Corbin). Below are four pitchers who appear to be changing things up for the 2020 season. The question is, what does this mean for their future?
Danny Duffy came into 2020 with the mindset of keeping a pitch mix change he made towards the end of last season. In July and September (hurt in August) of 2019, Duffy started to get comfortable with his changeup. Most notably in September, he threw his changeup over 20% of the time, the first time he did that all season. In that month he threw for 30.1 innings while producing an impressive 2.37 ERA and 3.61 FIP.